Focusing Tip #682 – “I don’t know how not to merge with my hurt parts when I am with my family.”

Focusing Tip #682 – “I don’t know how not to merge with my hurt parts when I am with my family.”
November 27, 2019 Ann Weiser Cornell
Do you get triggered when you are with your family because it is so clear THEY are triggered?

Focusing Tip #682 – “I don’t know how not to merge with my hurt parts when I am with my family.”

Do you get triggered when you are with your family because it is so clear THEY are triggered? Read on…

A Reader writes:

The hardest time for me to be Self-in-Presence and not react out of my parts is when I am with my family – not my spouse, but my original family.

Can you speak to how one can use Focusing and Self-in-Presence with another person whose hurt parts are activated and they tend to merge with those parts. It’s too easy to merge with one’s own hurt parts, and also to merge with a loved one’s hurt parts.

Dear Reader:

Yes, being with our original family can be very hard. It can help to simply acknowledge that that is true. “This is hard.”

What’s especially hard is not to react in our characteristic way.

Maybe you have a family member who always insults you and puts you down. (Or maybe more than one!) Then you react defensively and feel helpless and/or angry.

Maybe you have a family member who acts helpless as a way to manipulate others into feeling guilty. Then you help or you don’t help but either way you feel trapped.

Maybe you have a family member who is chronically angry and complaining and dominates the conversation with what is wrong. You hate the way there is no space for you, but going silent or trying to get in your own opinion both don’t work.

No wonder some of us stay away from family gatherings!

What would it be like to be Self-in-Presence in those situations instead of reacting from a hurt, trapped, defensive part of yourself?

The biggest secret is to PAUSE. Reacting quickly and automatically will always be from a part of you.

Pause, and silently, inwardly, feel how you feel, both emotionally and physically.

Silently, inwardly, acknowledge how you feel, and acknowledge that this situation is a hard one.

No matter what happens, your job is to be present for yourself.

And then, if possible, be curious… both toward yourself, and outwardly.

What happens next will emerge from the situation. But when you do these things… PAUSE, ACKNOWLEDGE, BE CURIOUS… then what happens next is more likely to be something new, with life energy.

Let’s see what happens!


  1. Prashama Sandy Berenson 5 years ago

    I love this! It feels important to use these tips every day! I am now living with my “wasband”, in a new state to help our son graduate from high school. My ex and my son are the two people who trigger me the most. Giving that self empathy and acknowledgement is really critical. I am hoping that will keep me calm enough to be curious. I find that something in me feels so intense like something is fighting for its life! So I have had to take a time out on order to calm myself.

    • Author
      Ann Weiser Cornell 5 years ago

      Thank you, Sandy! It’s so important to acknowledge those intense feelings. I love that you found a way to say HOW intensely it feels… “like something is fighting for its life.” I’m sure it feels more heard now… Good for you!

  2. Diane Baumgart 5 years ago

    What I do when with family and parts get triggered.
    First, as a focuser with years of practice I found many of my triggers and some of the early events when pain and hurts appeared. So before a visit (me to visit them or vice versa or a family wedding) I prepare. I know I have a sense that something in me often feels excluded, that something in me often feels not one-of-them (weird) or excluded, and of course there are a few more something’s. I tell myself that I can be curious when I get any of those feelings and hear something In me that perhaps says “hear it is or comes again”. I take a breath and a pause to say hello for two or three seconds and it helps a lot.
    In essence it helps me stay self in presence. It has helped me to care for myself And respond to their taunts , caricatures of me or hurtful words with spontaneous, non violent words and sometimes something like “I am curious why you believe that…..”
    This may sound vague or that a short pause is so little to do. It is hard to do, I find I prepare being self in process by taking these small, short pauses and of course some walks by myself!!!

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